Keeping Fluffy safe on Halloween


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Children wait all year to go trick-or-treating. Over the years that family fun has grown to include our pets. From Halloween pet parades, costumes, specialty toys and other themed pet products this tradition is fun for everyone including our favorite ‘furries!’

Not all pets, however, embrace the loud noises, scary gestures and costumes that come with the holiday, so the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is sharing some tips to help keep pets safe and secure over the holiday.

• Noise such as constant doorbell ringing and door knocking may stress your pets. Find a quiet room in the house with food, water, litter box or crate and bring them out after it’s all over.

• Candy and candy wrappers can be toxic to pets. Never leave candy unattended, or within reach, of your cat or dog. Chocolate is toxic to pets and foil and Cellophane wrappers, if ingested, will cause havoc on the animal’s digestive tract which could result in surgery or death.

Leading up to Halloween, and Halloween itself, keep your pets — especially your black cats (white cats, too) — indoors to reduce the possibility of harmful pranks or acts of animal cruelty.

• Jack-O-Lanterns and other decorations with flames are dangerous around unpredictable pets. Cats and dogs have been known to knock over lighted candles, which have resulted in home fires. Consider flameless candles as part of your decor and try to eliminate as many electrical cords as possible to prevent chewing.

• Leash your animals if they will be outdoors to prevent them from running in front of cars or running away and make sure they are properly tagged and micro-chipped if they do get away.

• Animal costumes can restrict a pet’s vision, movement and/or hearing — make sure it does none of those.

• Running, chasing, quick movements by trick-or-treaters toward animals, or their owners, may be perceived as an aggressive action by a pet. Discourage children from acting this way to avoid an altercation. Better yet, if your dog appears to be agitated, keep your pet inside and away from children.

According to 2013 statistics, the National Retail Federation says that 15 percent of Americans will dress their companion animals in costumes. But that can be an issue.

“Not all animals enjoy being in costumes as much as some pet owners enjoy seeing them in costume,” said Mike Canning, president and CEO of PIJAC. “Pet costumes can compromise the natural instincts and defense mechanisms of our four-legged friends, so we encourage pet owners to monitor the pet’s stress level and ability to function in any costume that might make them fearful or even aggressive.”

According to the Pet Poison Hotline, calls increased in 2011 by 21 percent, many of which were related to chocolate consumption by pets. If your pet ingests candy, or other toxic substances, consult your veterinarian, local Animal Emergency Hospital or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 which operates 24/7. There is a $39 per incident fee that covers the consultation and follow-up calls.

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